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Expos Take Care Of Tampa Bay

There was no interleague magic Friday night at Tropicana Field.

Brad Fullmer and Vladimir Guerrero hit two-run homers as Montreal beat Tampa Bay 5-2 on Friday night in an interleague matchup that drew the smallest crowd ever at Tropicana Field.

After averaging 31,396 in their first 26 home games, the expansion Devil Rays drew only 24,025 for their first regular-season game against a National League opponent.

"I'd hate to say it's because it's Montreal because Montreal has a lot of good young players," Tampa Bay starter Rick White said. "Granted, they don't have Larry Walker and all the other guys they got rid of, but they're still a good young team. I don't know. Maybe something else was going on out there tonight."

Despite the low turnout, Tampa Bay manager Larry Rothschild said the final verdict on interleague play is a long way off.

"If it will bring fans out, it's good for baseball," Rothschild said. "If it's not, it's not good. It's going to have be over a long period of time before you really now if that's going to be the case. You do what's good for the game."

Dustin Hermanson (4-4) outpitched former high school teammate White (0-2), working five shutout innings. Hermanson allowed three hits, struck out six and walked one in his first start and second appearance since returning from a back injury.

White allowed three runs and seven hits in five innings.

Montreal won its third consecutive road game, while Tampa Bay lost its fourth straight overall. During the losing streak, the Devil Rays have been outscored 25-7.

Following the game, Expos manager Felipe Alou half-jokingly wondered what the attendance fuss was all about.

"That's a big crowd to us," Alou said of the Montreal franchise that is averaging a major league-low 10,363 at home. "It looked packed. I'm not happy about interleague play when you realize we have haven't played two teams (Mets and Marlins) in our division yet. That's not good for anyone."

The game was scoreless until the fourth, when Fullmer hit his fourth homer of the season. Guerrero had three hits, including an RBI double in the fifth and a two-run homer in the seventh.

The Devils Rays got their runs on Miguel Cairo's RBI single in the eighth and Bobby Smith's sacrifice fly in the ninth.

Montreal shortstop Mark Grudzielanek left the game in the eighth when he landed awkwardly on his left wrist while taking a throw from catcher Chris Widger on Randy Winn's stolen base. Alou said Grudzielanek, who was replaced by Mike Mordecai, is fine. No X-Rays were required.

Notes: Hermanson became the first pitcher to beat both 1998 expansion teams. He defeated Arizona on a two-hitter May 3. ... Tampa Bay left-hander Wilson Alvarez reported soreness in is pitching shoulder following his first throwing session in 11 days. Alvarez has been sidelined since May 21 by shoulder inflammation. He is scheduled to throw again Sunday ... The Expos acquired right-hander Mark Mangum from Colorado on Friday to complete an offseason trade that sent reliever Dave Veres to the Rockies. Mangum, 19, opened the season in Colorado's extended spring camp, going 1-1 with a 2.33 ERA in six appearances. ... The Devil Rays signed four players selected in this week's amateur draft right-handers Brandon Backe (18th round), Joseph Haines (25th), James Lira (27th) and Matthew Schuldt (34th).

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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